A venous ulcer is a shallow wound that develops on the lower leg when the leg veins fail to return blood back toward the heart normally.
The first sign of a venous ulcer is an area of dark red or purple skin, which may also become thickened, dry, and itchy. Without treatment, an open wound (ulcer) may form. The wound may be painful, and the legs may become swollen and achy.
Risk of developing venous ulcers is increased by the presence of blood clotting disorders, pregnancy, obesity, a family history of varicose veins, smoking, excessive alcohol use, poor nutrition, or excessively long periods of inactivity or standing.
Treating a venous ulcer requires the use of various methods to improve circulation. However, if venous ulcers become infected or resist healing for longer than 6 months, more aggressive treatments such as vein surgery and skin grafting may be needed.